November 3-5, 2022 ** in person **
University of North Texas, Denton, TX (all times are in CST)
Organizational Sponsors: Office of the President and Department of Art History, University of North Texas; al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYU Abu Dhabi; Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA).
Conference Committee: Nada Shabout, Salwa Mikdadi, Sarah Rogers, Anneka Lenssen, Pamela Karimi, and Jessica Gerschultz
The 1980s may have reached a conclusion more than thirty years ago, but the decade’s transformations remain active in artistic practice across the countries and communities of what we now call the SWANA region (including, but not limited to, the Arab East, North Africa, Iran, and Turkey). Thanks to consumer recording technologies, experience and memory took new forms–replay and discontinuous viewing–while cultural criticism began to migrate away from the printed page. To look back on the 1980s is not to be nostalgic so much as to confront the very status of beginnings, departures, and ends. The decade features a list of political crises, invasions, occupations, uprisings, forced displacement, coups, emergent surveillance tactics, militias, and hostages, including the grim events of a catastrophic war between Iraq and Iran, that structure narratives about friendship, solidarity, and loss. And, although the 1980s brought rising enthusiasm for contemporary art as a global phenomenon, artists from the region faced a wave of anti-Middle East sentiment that coded their work as resistant or belated. Still other transitions, such as those associated with economic “opening,” came to manifest as intense attachments to things. We see 1980s-era commodities come to double as talismans for artists: a very specific paper shredder known as the Schleicher Intimus 007S; the certain cut of a leather jacket preferred by Cairo taxi drivers; a textile collage featuring doubled Jesus figure on leopard print; Doc Martens tied to a performer’s ankles in Brixton; a Nowruz variety show distributed only on videotape. For every promotion of an idealized fusion of “tradition” and “contemporaneity” issued by a cultural ministry, there have been artists expressing changeable gendered and classed positions in their projects.
Few histories of modern art from the Arab East, North Africa, Iran, and Turkey have devoted attention to the 1980s apart from marking its transitional status. With this conference, we seek to redress the absence. To borrow from Edward Said writing in 1982, what actual affiliations existed between the world of ideas (or images) and the world of brute politics, corporate and state power, and military force? What are the stakes of specific, situated choices by artists, artist groups, promoters/consumers, or curators and collectors? What strategies are formulated, values mobilized, and expressions codified—by whom, and for whom? How to understand the impact of new initiatives, groups, galleries, and institutions, many established by women? What might we learn from this decade, and, conversely, what of its legacy should be jettisoned for the future?
Events concurrent with the conference will include: 1) ceremony to announce the inaugural Salwa Mikdadi Research Travel Grant launched by AMCA, 2) a funded graduate student workshop convened by AMCA, 3) an exhibition in University of North Texas’s CVAD Galleries, “A banquet for Seaweed: Snapshots from the Arab 1980s,” curated by Nada Shabout with loans from the Barjeel Art Foundation and other private collections.
 In order, items mentioned or used by artists Gelare Khoshgozaran, Hassan Khan, Gülsün Karamustafa, Mona Hatoum, and Media Farzin.
 One exception may be studies of contemporary art in Turkey and their questions around periodization. See the curatorial project of Merve Elveren for SALT, “How did we get here. Turkey in the 1980s.”
 Edward W. Said, “Opponents, Audiences, Constituencies, and Community,” Critical Inquiry 9 no. 1 (Sept 1982): 1-26.
Thursday, November 3, 2022
10-4pm: Graduate Student Workshop (open to participating graduate students only)
Pujan Karambeigi, Columbia University, NY
Natasha Gasparian, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford
Özge Karagöz, Northwestern University, Chicago
Leena Sonbuol, University of North Texas
Derya Acuner, IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca
Elham Shahsavar Zadeh, York University, Toronto
Ahmed Abdelazim, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Flavia Malusardi, Cà Foscari University of Venice, Italy
6pm: Launch Ceremony and Celebration: Salwa Mikdadi Research Travel Grant
Friday, November 4, 2022
10-12 pm: Being Seen: 1980s Exhibition Cultures
-Defne Kırmızı, Boston University, “Conceptualism Localized: Öncü Türk Sanatından Bir Kesit Exhibition Series in the 1980s Istanbul”
-Joan Grandjean, University of Geneva, “How Two Arab Art Students Started an Artistic Revolution in London”
-Rachel Winter, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and University of California, Santa Barbara, “Alterity, Alternative Spaces, and Representation in 1980s London”
12-1:30 pm: How the UAE Became the Artistic Crossroads of the Arab World
Organized by al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYU Abu Dhabi
-Ala Younis, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYU Abu Dhabi, “Majid Magazine: how a publishing project in the 1980s shaped the visual culture of the Arab world”
-Dina Taha, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYU Abu Dhabi, “Methods of Self-Mediation in Hassan Sharif’s Practice”
-Sophie Kazan, University of Falmouth, Cornwall, UK and University of Leicester, UK, “Artist Pioneers: Exploring the impact of Art by Emirati artists during the 1980s”
3:45-5:30 pm: Mediated Experience / Media Art
-Anna Levett, Oberlin College, “Ibn ‘Arabi in Sausalito: Etel Adnan in the 1980s”
-Hossein Tavazonizadeh, University of Groningen, “Iranian Interiors in the Narrative Cinema of the 1980s: The Construction of the Memory of Pre-1979 Architecture”
-Anneka Lenssen, University of California, Berkeley, “On Hearing / Not Hearing Houria Niati’s No To Torture”
-Dalia Ibraheem, Rutgers University, “Sha’bi Music in Egypt and the Genres Without History”
6 pm: Keynote Lecture
Sama’an Ashrawi: “The life and times of a Palestinian punk-rocker-turned-hip-hopper in New York City”
Saturday, November 5, 2022
10-12:30 pm: The Decade that Changed Iran: Perspectives from the Visual Arts, Film, Prose, and Poetry in the 1980s
-Blake Atwood, American University of Beirut, “Watching Movies at Home in Iran: Videocassettes and Movie Culture in the 1980s Iran.”
-Pamela Karimi, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, “Sites Unseen: State Censorship and the Rise of Alternative Art Forms in Post-Revolutionary Iran.”
-Orkideh Behrouzan, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), “The Psycho-politics of Coming of Age in 1980s Iran: Perspectives from Pop Culture”
-Amir Moosavi, Rutgers University, “Elegies for Destruction and Moments of Silence: Early Aberrations in Sacred Defense Literature.”
-Fatemeh Shams, University of Pennsylvania, “Writing Outside Borders: Trauma and Alienation in 1980s Exile Persian Poetry”
2-3 pm: National Culture? New Pressures on Afro-Arab Arts
-Chahrazad Zahi, Boston University, “Mohammed Kacimi, 1983-2003: Traversées (Crossings)”
-Cynthia Becker, Boston University, “Seven Walls Revisited (1989): Denis Martinez’s Algeria”
3:15-5:15 pm: Lebanon’s Art World at Home and Abroad in the 1980s: Artistic production and reception in times of war
Organized by LAWHA at the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB)
-Monique Bellan, Orient-Institut Beirut, “Continuity and Beginnings? Reading Lebanon’s 1980s art exhibitions through the press”
-Çiğdem İvren, University of Bamberg, “Off the Mainstream: War motifs and the medium of printmaking”
-Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas, “When the Wood is Fragrant, the Bond is Stronger”: Tapestry and Lebanon (late 1970s-1980s)”
-Nadia von Maltzahn, Orient-Institut Beirut, “Fadi Barrage: ‘To think things out in painting’”
Open to the Public
Date: May 22, 2016 – May 24, 2016
Time: 09:00am – 05:00pm
Location: NYUAD Campus, Conference Center View map
Register for this Event here
Our art historical account of modernism has long been rooted in an idea of dissatisfaction with representation, in a twentieth-century impatience with perceived distance from ‘real’ material, emotion, or knowledge. While Western scholarship privileges one network of European artists with the invention of abstraction in 1910, this dissatisfaction with representation permeated other disciplines as well. Modern architects ceased concerning themselves with historical styles as a métier, instead designing machines for living, and for knowing. By mid century, the methods of postwar sociology and planning shifted in the direction of producing data sets which, offering ways to manipulate experience apart from the singularity of good taste or the frame of the individual, became material to the art object (and its deconstruction) as well. At stake in these multiple abstractions was the dream of true being, as might exist outside the specificity of language or culture.
There is no monopoly on this dream. Nomenclature to describe the transcendence of the singularity of appearances in fact proliferates in translation – the Arabic word tajreed, the Persian entaze’e or the Turkish word soyutlama, and other names – to denote formal states beyond natural likeness such as a lasting structure or eternal concept. And yet, still tethered to the very word abstraction—as it is used in the narrow disciplinary frame of artistic modernism—is a concept of representation that has been formed within the particular historical context of the European tradition of illusionistic painting. Abstraction acquired its sense in reference to a lack, a pulling away from visual representation, an absence of the figure. If this is our disciplinary inheritance, what can be made of work with traditions that never placed emphasis on the icon, or never submitted to the representational limits of the painterly frame? How can we attend to the multiplicity of other artistic problems, or modes of creation, found in modernism writ large? To the many strands of Eastern mysticism and vitalist philosophy that provided an impetus to abstraction, on all shores? What history can we write for the artists who made their own mobility a ground for new abstractions, moving from discipline to discipline, and circulating around various cities and countries?
The fourth AMCA conference seeks to open the concept of abstraction up to inquiry across multiple disciplinary formulations, so as to probe both the frame of modern abstraction and its promise to unframe. Papers might engage a range of subjects, including and not limited to (1) critical accounts of the concept of abstraction; (2) case studies of artistic practice; (3) critical analyses of interactions between artists and architects, or art and calculation; (4) reinterpretations of global conditions for abstract art in the twentieth century. As a whole, the conference is intended to highlight transformations of abstraction in the non-West, including the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey, and the history of aniconic ornament in their spiritual landscapes. Equally it aims to take other impetuses into account: the abstract calculations of colonialism, economics, and planning that produced the modern condition, as well as ethical issues surrounding the abdication of the figure or the non-figure (such as sincerity of practice or lack thereof).
The conference will take place at two institutions: NYU-Abu Dhabi and the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah. By convening the conference in conjunction with a collection of art assembled outside national boundaries, and within a new institution of higher learning located between the Middle East and Asia, in which Europe is de-centered, we anticipate that our discussions in the United Arab Emirates will enable us to un-frame abstraction as an artistic process, goal, and critique. To that end, the conference will conclude with a day of “unconference”, when the questions raised in the conference may be applied to the collection of art in the Barjeel Art Foundation. This collection includes work by Etel Adnan, Mohammed Melehi, Mona Saudi, Hugette Caland, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Omar El Nagdi, and others may be viewed at https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/u/0/collection/barjeel-art-foundation.
All proposals to be submitted by Oct 31st 2015
to: email@example.com. Responses will be emailed on December 1st, 2015.
Conference participation of presenters will be fully subsidized by the generous sponsorship of Barjeel Art Foundation and NYUAD
Saleem Al-Bahloly (EUME Fellow 2014-2016, Forum Transregionale Studien)
Jessica Gerschultz (University of Kansas)
Anneka Lenssen (UC Berkeley)
Salwa Mikdadi (NYUAD)
Nada Shabout (University of North Texas)
Register for this Event here
Sunday, May 22: Day 1
|9:00 – 9:30 AM||Registration|
|Institute Conference Center|
|Meeting Room Foyer|
|9:30 – 9:45 AM||Welcome Remarks & Introduction|
|Robert J.C. Young, Dean of Arts & Humanities,NYUAD|
|Salwa Mikdadi, NYUAD|
|Nada Shabout, AMCA|
|Sultan Al Qassemi, BAF|
|9:45 – 11:00 AM||Panel I: Painting: Questions of the Liminal Space|
|Beyond Figuration: Exploring the space between the abstract and the figurative in Marwan’s painting|
|Charlotte Bank, University of Geneva|
|Sam Francis’s Polycentric Abstraction|
|Elizabeth Buhe, NYU|
|Anneka Lenssen, UC Berkeley|
|11:00 – 11:30 AM
||Break & Refreshments
|11:30 AM – 1:00 PM||Panel II: Violence of Abstraction|
|Clandestine Aesthetics: Abstracted Photography in Wartime Algeria|
|Tina Barouti, Boston University|
|Part Flesh, Part Data: Permutations of Black Square|
|Sandra Skurvida, FIT-SUNY|
|Saleem Al-Bahloly, Forum Transregionale Studien|
|2:00 – 3:30 PM||PANEL III: Anonymous Modalities|
|Understanding abstraction in artistic expressions in contemporary media of the Arabian Gulf|
|Maha Al-Saati, University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia|
|Speculation and Spectacle: Oil and Modernization in Kuwait|
|Michael Kubo, MIT|
|Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas|
|3:20 – 4:00 PM||Break & Refreshments|
|4:00 – 5:00 PM||Curatorial Tour: Diana al Hadid Exhibition|
|Maya Allison, NYUAD Chief Curator & Director|
|5:00 – 6:30 PM||Break & Refreshments|
|6:30 – 8:00 PM||PUBLIC PROGRAM|
|NYUAD Conference Center (A6)|
|Middle Eastern Films Before Thy Gaze Returns to Thee—in Less than 1/24 of a Second|
|Jalal Toufic, Director of the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA)|
|Immediately followed by a public reception|
Monday, May 23 | Day 2
|9:00 – 9:30 AM||Registration|
|Institute Conference Center|
|Lecture Hall Foyer|
|9:30 – 11:00 AM||PANEL IV: Painting: Choosing Abstraction|
|Fahrelnissa Zeid Unbound: Inner Necessity and the Articulation of Abstraction with Representation|
|Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, Independent Scholar|
|Abstraction in Saudi Art: one solution, various situations|
|Eiman Elgibreen, The Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Saudi Arabi|
|Nada Shabout, University of North Texas|
Tuesday, May 24: DAY 3
Hosted by Barjeel Art Foundation
|Sultan Al Qassemi, BAF|
|Nada Shabout, AMCA|
|10:00 – 11:30 AM||PANEL V: National Narration: Abstraction in Place|
|Architecture-Art-Architecture: Constructing Baghdad’s Modernism|
|Amin Alsaden, Harvard University|
|Abstraction, ‘Iranian Modernism,’ and the Question of Global-Local Art|
|Combiz Moussavi-Aghdam, Art University in Tehran|
|Abstraction: Modernization Challenged, Representation Dismantled|
|Ilhan Ozan, Research and Programs at SALT, Istanbul|
|Salwa Mikdadi, NYUAD|
|Q & A|
|11:30 – 11:50 AM||Break & Refreshments|
|Al Qasabah Theater, Sharjah|
|11:50 – 1:00 PM||PANEL VI: Abstraction in Performance|
|Dialogical Abstraction in Halim El-Dabh’s Expression of Zaar (1944)|
|Delinda Collier, School of the Art Institute of Chicago|
|Generative abstraction in the media artworks of Mounir Fatmi and Arthur Jafa|
|Laura Marks, Simon Fraser University|
|Anneka Lenssen, UC Berkeley|
|Q & A|
|6:30-7:45 PM||Unconference: Abstraction Unframed|
|Sharjah Art Museum|
Register for this Event here
Joint Conference of School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU, Qatar)
Date: 7 – 9 October 2015
Venue: School of Art Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Ave, 639798
In October 2015, the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore will bring together designers, artists, architects, and academics for a multi-disciplinary conference on contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture. Although each discipline has its own practice and methodology, when collectively grouped under an Islamic identity, we are forced to redefine the term “Islamic.” While new forms, spaces, images, typographies, symbols, colors, and materials of contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture share distinct cultural narratives from individual geographies, it remains essential to address how comparative and connective perspectives reorient our understanding of contemporary Islamic visual communication. This three-day conference, scheduled to take place October 7-9, is an unprecedented forum dedicated to convening professionals and scholars from throughout Asia, Europe, and America who share an investment in contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture.
The conference will focus on two primary issues:
Organization Committee: Gül İnanç, Peer Sathikh, Nada Shabout, Sarah Rogers and Dina Bangdel
Third Annual Conference of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Turkey and Iran
October 18-19, 2013
Kevorkian Center, NYU”
|Friday, October 18NYU Abu Dhabi 19 Washington Square North11:00-1:00
Writing the History of Art outside Art History
Ottoman and Qajar Modernisms: A Comparison that Provincializes
The Construction of Difference
The Art of Transdifference. Ornamental Patterns in Modern and Contemporary Egyptian Art
Nation and Difference in Early Twentieth Century Egyptian Art
Discussant: Arindam Dutta, MIT
|Saturday, October 19Hagop Kevorkian Center at NYU 255 Sulllivan Street10:00-12:00
The Problem of the Modern in Iran
Issues of Plagiarism and Authenticity in Early Modern Art of Iran:
‘Iranian or Not?’ That Indeed Might Not Be the Question
Similarity and Difference: the Case of Cubism
The Phantasm of Picasso: Jewad Selim,, Yahya al-Wasiti, and the
|Watch the conference videos:|
Sponsored by the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi
|June 1-2, 2012
Bathish Auditorium, West Hall,
American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon
Please click on playlist above to navigate to a specific paper
Organized by the Association for the Study of Modern & Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) and held in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut
Free and open to the public
Conference sponsored in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut, supported by a generous donation from Rana Sadik and Samer Younis, and the Provost and Dean of FAS at AUB. Special thanks to Saleh Barakat.
Saleem Al-Bahloly is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is writing a dissertation about modern art in Baghdad during the 1950s and 1960s.
Bassam el Baroni is an independent curator and art critic from Alexandria, Egypt. He is the co-founder and director of Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF).
Saleh Barakat is a leading expert in contemporary Arab art and founder of the Agial Art Gallery in Beirut, 1991. He has curated several pan-Arab exhibitions, including the IXth Francophone Summit in Beirut, the 2003 World Bank Summit in Dubai, and co-curated the first national pavilion for Lebanon at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
James Casey is a Ph.D. student in the History Department at Princeton University. His research interests focus on Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate, waqf, masculinity, modes of violence in the nineteenth and twentieth century Arab Middle East.
Clare Davies is a doctoral candidate and Erwin Panofsky Fellow at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her dissertation focuses on art practice in Egypt prior to 1952. She lives in Cairo.
Angela Harutyunyan is Assistant Professor of Art History at the American University of Beirut. She publishes internationally on issues related to conceptual art practices in the former Soviet Union and cultural politics in the Middle East. She is the Associate Editor of Art Margins journal published with MIT Press.
Patrick Kane is Instructor of History in the Humanities Department at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is author of The Politics of Art in Modern Egypt: Aesthetics, Ideology, and Nation-building (IB Tauris – In Print, August 2012).
Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab is a Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Brown University. Her overall interest is the philosophy of culture, both Western and non-Western, with a particular focus on postcolonial debates on cultural malaise, authenticity and critique. Her latest book, Contemporary Arab Thought. Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspective, published by Columbia University Press in the fall of 2009, is an examination of critical thinking in Arab and postcolonial (mainly African and Latin American) debates on culture in the second half of the twentieth century.
Anneka Lenssen is a Ph.D. Candidate in History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at M.I.T. She is completing a dissertation entitled, “The Shape of the Support: Painting in Syria’s Twentieth Century.” She is treasurer of AMCA.
Salwa Mikdadi is a curator and art historian whose work spans over thirty years in the field of Arab art and museums. Her publications and exhibitions focus on gender and politics, Palestinian art, Arab museums and art institutions. She is currently the Head of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi. She is a founding member of AMCA.
Holiday Powers is a graduate student in art history at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art in Morocco and postcolonial theory. She is currently based in Casablanca.
Dina A Ramadan is Assistant Professor of Arabic at Bard College. She is a senior editor of the Arab Studies Journal and a founding member and secretary of AMCA. Her research has focused on the development of the category of modern art in early 20th century Egypt, and the intersection between the discourses on education and the role of artistic production.
Sarah A. Rogers received her doctorate from the Department of Architecture at M.I.T in 2008 with the dissertation, “Postwar Art and the Historical Roots of Beirut’s Cosmopolitanism.” She is currently editing a collection of essays on the Khalid Shoman Private Collection in Amman, Jordan. She is a founding member and President-Elect of AMCA.
Alexandra Dika Seggerman is a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art department at Yale University. She is currently a U.S. Department of State ECA fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt, where she is conducting research for her dissertation, entitled, “Revolution and Renaissance in Modern Egyptian Art, 1880-1960.”
Nada Shabout is an Associate Professor of Art History and the Director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas, and the Director of Research and a long-term advisor at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. She is a founding member and President of AMCA.
Tammer El-Sheikh is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Art History and Communications Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
December 16-17, 2010
This, our first AMCA conference, brought together established and emerging scholars working throughout the world to present research and think through the intellectual problems shaping the field of modern Arab art today. It was hosted in collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar and took place in conjunction with the museum’s inaugural events and exhibition openings.
Papers were given by: Raja Adal, Jessica Gerschultz, Sarah-Neel Smith, Sharif Mahmoud Sharif, Elizabeth Miller, Patrick Kane, Sonja Mejcher-Atassi, Cynthia Becker, Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, Holiday Powers, Saleem al-Bahloly, Chad Elias, Karin Zitzewitz, and Samah Hijawi.
Chairs and Discussants included: Wijdan el-Hashimi, Tina Sherwell, Salwa Mikdadi, Kirsten Scheid, Kamal Boullata, Stephen Sheehi, Charbel Dagher, Hannah Feldman, Nasser Rabbat, Iftikhar Dadi, Suad Amiry, and Arindam Dutta.
To view video footage of presented papers, see: https://www.youtube.com/user/mathafmodern (There are 23 parts).